I do think that DACs have improved -- or at least, changed -- over thirty years. I had the experience of buying a new budget du jour player -- the ubiquitous Onkyo 7030 -- and living with it for several months. Then I dropped in my old State Of The Art player when a friend asked to audition the Onkyo. Boy, that old Technics was NOT vavuuming up the ones and zeroes like the newer Onkyo, even though the Technics was a more expensive and mechanically robust machine. I realized I had inadvertently performed the sort of long-term audition the magazines use and can now agree it may be the best way to assess components. Live with them for several months as the sole change, and then replace it and hear what you're missing. By the time I decided I was willing to pay for the 7030's sound in a prettier package, Onkyo had discontinued its more expensive 7070 and 7000R models. But as much as I liked the bullet-proof construction of the old machine, I'm not willing to compomise the sonics.